Egyptian police deny torturing prisoner to death
Egyptian police on Friday denied allegations that a prisoner was tortured to death inside a prison near Cairo, saying he died of an overdose of medications, dpa reported.
The death of prisoner Essam Atta under mysterious circumstances sparked anger on Friday among Egyptian human rights activists, who have accused police forces of systematic torture of detainees.
"An examination of Atta by the prison doctor showed he had suffered a suspected medicinal poisoning," a source in the Interior Ministry said. "Atta was taken to the toxicology department of a Cairo hospital, where he died during treatment."
A lawyer at the Cairo-based El Nadeem Centre for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Torture has filed a lawsuit against police officers at Torah Prison on the outskirts of Cairo, alleging that they tortured Atta to death, the semi-official newspaper al-Ahram reported online Friday.
"The 24-year-old prisoner died Thursday at a Cairo hospital after he was tortured by prison officers to punish him for reportedly smuggling a mobile SIM card into the jail," El Nadeem Centre said.
Fellow inmates told the centre that officers had pushed water hoses into Atta's mouth.
The hospital report said that Atta had died after suffering a severe drop in blood pressure and heart failure. Medics noticed liquid secretions coming out of his mouth, al-Ahram reported.
Atta was serving a two-year term in the prison after being convicted on charges of thuggery, according to Egyptian police. Hundreds of people held a special funeral prayer for Atta on Friday in a mosque in Tahrir Square in central Cairo.
Later, angry mourners clashed with police officers stationed outside the nearby US embassy, said witnesses. There were no reports about casualties.
Atta's death came two days after an Egyptian court sentenced two police officers to seven years in prison for "harshly treating" the blogger Khaled Said, who was found dead with signs of torture on his body shortly after the two officers detained him.
Said's death is seen as having sparked the popular uprising that forced then-president Hosny Mubarak from power on February 11.
Rights groups have repeatedly expressed concern that torture cases have continued since Mubarak's fall, with some accusing the Egyptian Army of being responsible for most such cases since February.